The Tobique River (pro. Toe-Bick) is a river in northwestern New Brunswick, Canada. The river rises from Nictau Lake in Mount Carleton Provincial Park and flows for 148 kilometres to its confluence with the Saint John River near Perth-Andover.
The river flows in a general southwesterly direction. At Nictau, it is joined by the river's Right Hand Branch, which drains Square Lake and Trousers Lake through the River Don and River Dee respectively. Past Nictau, the river flows past Blue Mountain, Oxbow to the village of Plaster Rock, where it is joined by the Wapskeheagan River. The Tobique flows west from there, past the Tobique First Nation, to the Saint John River. Just before the Tobique Dam, facing the dam, there is a beach to the left side and a heavy rock cut to the right. This makes for very beautiful pictures during the fall foliage.
Tobique, the largest Maliseet reserve in the province, first rejected a developer’s bid to build a hydro dam on its territory in 1844. The next such bid came in 1895 and was also rejected. As New Brunswick’s Telegraph Journal reported in a series of historical pieces, the Tobique River was then “part of what may well have been the greatest salmon river system in the world;” hundreds of thousands of fish swam up these rivers each year to spawn. The abundant salmon defined the community’s way of life, providing food and employment—many worked as guides in the summer months.
Individual developers eventually gave way to provincial and federal agencies. In 1950 New Brunswick’s premier approved the construction of a dam at Tobique, this time without consulting the land’s Maliseet owners. By the end of that year, construction on the dam had begun.
Today, few wild salmon make their way up the Tobique river. The dam has eroded the reserve’s riverbanks, leading to “trees being washed away and homes in danger of falling into the river,” according to Maliseet activist Terry Sappier. Many of the edible and medicinal plants are gone—the islands they grew on are underwater. And ironically, because they are considered a rural area, Tobique residents are charged among the highest electricity rates in the province.
FIDDLE ON THE TOBIQUE:
2015 marked the 15th anniversary of the first fiddle on the Tobique. The first event included just 7 people, one fiddle and two canoes and a kayak. The river was expecting 1400 canoes and 8,000 people and 150 musicians and people coming from New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, Egypt, South Africa, Switzerland, Germany, France, Holland, England, Ireland and there are 35 US states and all ten provinces, too!
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